This article explores how young Paraguayan migrants, returnees, and not-yet-migrants negotiate contradicting aspirations and desperations that they attach to urban and rural spaces in the present and future. While a protracted crisis of small-scale agriculture in Paraguay increases pressure to migrate, the economic crisis in Argentina challenges the established migration trajectories between rural Paraguay and Buenos Aires. The article shows how young adults continuously weigh up current living conditions and future prospects both “here” and “there” and are torn between leaving, staying, or returning. Based on multi-sited ethnographic field research, it reconstructs the ways in which they navigate between four ambiguous aspirations: security, advancement, belonging, and attachment. Whereas rural out-migration of young people is often interpreted as a yearning for modern city life, the analysis reveals that both rural and urban areas are linked with aspirations as well as desperations.
Corinna Land is a research associate at the Fulda University of Applied Sciences and a doctoral fellow of the interdisciplinary Sylff-Mikrokolleg “Forced Migration” at the Ruhr-University Bochum. Her sociological dissertation brings together debates on agrarian change, transnational migration, and the political economy of hope. It explores the dialectics of displacement and emplacement in peasant struggles for rural homes and spaces of possibility. Asking how peasants renegotiate rural livelihoods at interfaces with the neoliberal state, agribusiness, and migration, it sheds new light on resistance and “resilience.” E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org